Panthers Notebook: Coach Frank Reich Sells Players Retain ‘Fire In The Belly’ To Compete On Road Vs. Tennessee Titans, Finish NFL Season ‘Highly-Motivated’

panthers frank reich on sidelines vs dallas (1)

Carolina Panthers coach Frank Reich, who’s sitting well below his preseason win quota, needed to make a sale.

The day after Thanksgiving, he attempted to assure the fan base the players were still hungry, despite what had devolved into a lost NFL campaign.

During a video replay of his Friday press conference at Bank of America Stadium, Reich made his sales pitch entering the 1-9 Panthers’ matchup against the host Tennessee Titans (3-7) on Sunday.

“There’s no doubt,” Reich said. “The resolve is there, the determination, the fire in the belly—all those things. I mean, this is a highly motivated locker room group.

“It’s been a tough year so far, but there’s still a lot of football left. We understand that comes one week at a time. We understand we’re goin’ up against a tough, physical team. So, we need to come out there and compete. We have to compete hard on every play, execute at a high level. Very motivated to get things going in the right direction.”

Are you sold?

Panthers Suffer Additional OL Turmoil With Austin Corbett Injury

Coming off a humbling 33-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, the Panthers have dropped three straight with a struggling offense that has not scored more than 13 points in their past four outings.

The offensive unit took another hit when starting right guard Austin Corbett suffered a season-ending MCL injury against the Cowboys. The sixth-year guard was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

The offensive line is a unit that needs stability. In 10 games, the Panthers have surrendered 31 sacks. Struggling rookie quarterback Bryce Young has played under near-constant pressure, stunting his development over his nine starts.

The Panthers’ offense entered Week 12 ranked 29th in scoring and 31st in yards per game.

With Corbett and Brady Christensen (biceps) shelved, the Panthers travel to the Music City without two starting guards. Cade Mays, Nash Jensen and Brett Toth are active-roster candidates to replace Corbett. J.D. DiRenzo and Justin McCray were waiting in the wings on the practice squad.

Reich said Friday the coaching staff had a plan.

What is it?

“I really don’t want to say that at this point,” he said.

Injured CB Jaycee Horn Still Sidelined

Out since the regular-season opener, cornerback Jaycee Horn has been close to returning the past few weeks. The 2021 eighth-overall draft pick was designated to return from IR Nov. 13, but the 23-year-old’s return keeps sliding back.

“I probably don’t want to comment on that,” Reich said. “I think he’s doing well. He’s been making good progress, feel good about where he’s at. So, we’ll continue to take it day by day, week by week.”

The expected starter suffered a hamstring injury during the season-opening loss Sept. 10. Horn, who has dressed for 17 games, will miss his 26th career game Sunday.

If the Panthers do not active Horn next week, he could be lost for the rest of the season.

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